Keanu goes back through the looking glass in the legacy sequel The Matrix Resurrections
For its first 45 minutes or so, The Matrix Resurrections plays like Lana Wachowski’s version of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. In the latter film, Heather Langenkamp played a version of herself, an actress reluctantly returning for a Nightmare On Elm Street sequel that blurs the lines separating reality, fiction, and dreams. Now, Keanu Reeves is not playing “Keanu Reeves” in The Matrix Resurrections. But the mind-bending meta dimension is similar—enhanced, even. This is a Matrix movie, after all.
As the story begins, Neo (Reeves) is once again living the pointless, soulless life of “Thomas Anderson,” having been plugged back into the simulation sometime after the events of The Matrix Revolutions. In this particular program, Thomas Anderson is a world-renowned game developer, hailed for his visionary work on a trilogy of video games called—what else?—The Matrix. Living under the assumption that he had a psychotic break after completing the trilogy, Thomas takes his blue pills every morning, and visits a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) who explains to him that sometimes creatives get so immersed in their work that they lose the ability to discern imagination from memory.
Then Anderson’s business partner, Smith (Jonathan Groff), calls him into his office and announces that “our benevolent parent company Warner Bros. has decided to make a sequel” to The Matrix. Thus begins the most gratifying stretch of the film, as Wachowski stuffs all of her resentment about the existence of Resurrections into a slickly edited montage set to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” Lana and her sister Lilly have stated many times that they have no interest in continuing The Matrix as a film series. And Resurrections implies that the only reason Lana came back for a fourth movie was that Warner Bros. would have done it with or without her participation. As such, The Matrix Resurrections is a calculated compromise.